The VP-400 finds the best airport to land then flies your airplane to the runway threshold.
Know instantly what your options are.
The Vertical Power VP-400 is a next-generation backup EFIS that complements today’s primary EFIS products and incorporates its own independent solid-state gyros, GPS receiver, and electronic circuit breaker system.
As a next-generation backup, it backs up much more than a convention backup system. It:
Backs up the EFIS
Backs up the ENGINE
Backs up the PILOT
The VP-400 provides a safe way to get back on the ground if any of these fail!
VP-400 in 30 Seconds Video
The Vertical Power VP-400 is a back-up EFIS that flies your aircraft safely to the best runway in an emergency. The best airport is the one with the longest and widest runway that is pointed most directly into the wind that you can still safely glide to without impacting terrain or obstacles. THAT is the airport you want to glide to in an emergency! Your existing GPS nearest function understands none of these things.
The VP-400 integrates several leading-edge technologies that together enable a new level of safety and peace-of-mind for pilots. The enabling technologies are:
Runway Seeker™ technology that calculates, in real time, the glide path to every runway within gliding range. It takes into account terrain, obstacles, winds aloft, surface winds (with optional ADS-B transceiver), runway length, facilities at the airport, and a variety of other factors to determine the best runway to land. The nearest airport is not necessarily the best airport.
Integrated Electronic Circuit Breaker (ECB) system with trim and flap control. The VP-400 can control the flaps to manage aircraft energy during an emergency descent. By using a combination of pitch and roll control via the autopilot and deploying the flaps automatically via the electronic circuit breaker system, the Runway Seeker can ensure the aircraft arrives at the runway on heading, airspeed and altitude. The use of ECBs increases the reliability of the electrical system, reduces weight, and simplifies wiring.
WAAS GPS receiver. Through a series of pilot interviews and focus groups, Vertical Power determined that because the VP-400 is a backup instrument, it is likely that the pilot will not keep the baro altitude set accurately, or be unable to update it reliably to the local altimeter setting at the time of an emergency. Therefore, the best way to provide accurate altitude information under these conditions is with the built-in WAAS GPS receiver.
The VP-400 was developed in partnership with Laminar Research, makers of the X-Plane engineering flight simulator. By combining Vertical Power’s expertise in avionics and electronic circuit breakers with Laminar Research’s expertise in advanced flight modeling and synthetic vision imagery, new capabilities are available to make flying safer and easier.
As you fly, the Runway Seeker constantly searches for the best runway to land in an engine-out glide scenario. If there are no runways in gliding range, the Runway Seeker points you to the nearest airport while highlighting a glide solution is not available. You always know if there is a runway within gliding range.
Simple To Use!
When there is an emergency, simply pull the throttle to idle and press the Runway Seeker button on your instrument panel. The system automatically engages the autopilot to fly the glide path to the runway, leaving you free to focus on emergency procedures and talk to controllers. It sets the correct airspeed and even controls your flaps to manage energy during the descent so you arrive at the runway threshold on-speed, on-heading, on-altitude, and ready to land. Descent paths are calculated to be clear of known terrain and obstacles. When over the threshold, manually disconnect the Runway Seeker and land the airplane. The Runway Seeker is for emergency use only, and should not be used in place of normal published instrument approaches or VFR traffic pattern procedures.
The diagram below outlines how the VP-400 works once the Runway Seeker is engaged.
The following videos show you the VP-400 in action.
Video 1 – A quick introduction to the VP-400 (4 mins)
Video 2 – A more in-depth look at the VP-400 (12 mins)
Video 3 – AOPA Video with Alton Marsh (1 min)
Display Optimized for Emergency Glide Descent
The VP-400 display is intentionally uncluttered to show the information you need to make a safe emergency descent and landing. The VP-400 display shows:
2D and 3D highway-in-the sky path to the best landing runway
High-resolution synthetic vision display
Airspeed, GPS altitude, magnetic heading, winds
Calculated glide path to selected airport
The probability of a successful landing is predicted based on terrain, obstacles, winds aloft, surface winds (with optional ADS-B receiver), runway length and width, facilities at the airport, and a variety of other factors. Each airport icon is colored to show the likelihood of a successful power-off landing at that airport. A green airport icon means a successful power-off landing is likely, and a red airport icon means it is unlikely that you can glide-to-land there. Airport icons are shown in shades of color between red and green
Aircraft energy meter shows your ability to glide to the airport, based on current conditions
Quick-reference airport data for the selected airport (touch to expand)
Surface winds at the selected airport (with optional ADS-B integration)
Automatic zooming to glide range or to the selected airport. Manual zooming using the rotary knob.
Prop feathered and prop flat glide ranges. Terrain outside of the glide range is blacked out, as it is not relevant to a glide-only solution.
Terrain shading, runways and obstacles
Additionally, you can select pages to show:
Electrical system diagram
A list of electrical devices, including individual current draw and on/off status
The glide path is calculated using your aircraft’s known descent rate and best glide speed under worst-case flat-pitch prop conditions. Extra safety margin is included in the descent path to account for unknown circumstances. The energy meter, located on the right side of the map, indicates whether you have enough speed and altitude to follow the glide path safely to the selected airport under current conditions. The bottom of the meter means you have just enough energy to reach the runway under current conditions. The middle of the meter is the ideal spot, which means you have extra aircraft speed and altitude to use in case winds, etc. deviate from current conditions. The system bleeds off extra aircraft energy with flaps during the latter part of the descent.
During normal flight, the VP-400 shows you the real-time glide path to the best airport for a power-off landing, and the autopilot is controlled by the primary EFIS. The autopilot can be controlled by the VP-400 or you can hand fly the highway-in-the-sky path once the Runway Seeker is engaged.
|Normal Flight||Runway Seeker Engaged|
|VP-400 shows glide path to the best airport for a power-off landing||VP-400 shows glide path to selected airport|
|Glide path is updated in real time as the solution changes||Glide path is locked in once the Runway Seeker is engaged|
|Autopilot operates normally||Autopilot is engaged automatically to fly glide path, but can be disengaged at any time|
|Flaps operate normally||Flaps are controlled by VP-400 while Runway Seeker is engaged to precisely manage aircraft energy|
The Runway Seeker normally selects the airport and runway automatically, but you can manually choose your own airport even once the Runway Seeker is engaged. You can do this by simply touching the new airport on the screen then selecting the desired runway. A new path is automatically calculated to that runway.
Electronic Circuit Breakers
The Electronic Circuit Breaker (ECB) system is an integral part of the VP-400. ECBs greatly simplify the wiring of your aircraft, reduce weight, and increase the reliability of your electrical system when compared with old-fashion mechanical circuit breakers. Further, the integrated flap controller moves your flaps during an emergency descent (while the Runway Seeker is engaged) to manage aircraft energy.
The VP-400 ECB feature set builds on those features available on the VP-X system, which is shown on the VP-X page. A summary of ECB features:
Detects short circuit, over-current, and open circuit (no current draw) conditions
Display shows status of each device, including individual current draw
Backup control of devices, including trim and flaps, from the display
Solid-state trim control including runaway trim protection
Solid-state flap control, including intermediate flap stops and flap over-speed protection
Trim and flap position outputs to the primary EFIS
4-digit code required to unlock system and starter circuit
Go-Around button input. When pressed, raises flaps slowly and sets trim to neutral
Control devices with switches, the display, or while on the ground using your iPad or iPhone
Automatic landing light wig-wag (pulsing)
Starter disable while engine running
Rules-based switching that allows you to turn devices on or off based on user-defined rules. For example, you can turn on the boost pump automatically above 10,000 ft. Or turn on strobe lights above 50 KIAS
Supports flaps with limit switches such as those on a Lancair.
The VP-400 power distribution unit includes three more circuits than the VP-X unit
Ground power input and management system. Monitors ground power voltage and disconnects if over the specified voltage level
Automatically closes cross tie during engine start (dual independent bus systems only)
Supports single bus or dual-independent bus architecture, single or dual alternator, and single or dual battery systems.
ECBs greatly simplify wiring while at the same time provide advanced electrical system capabilities. Wiring is simplified because you don’t have to install circuit breakers, bus bars, relays, trim and flap modules, shunts, e-bus diodes, or other complex wiring right on the back side of the instrument panel. Switch wiring is simplified because you can use smaller-gauge wire and wire one side to ground and the other side to the the VP-400. The advanced electrical system capabilities include solid-state power switching and circuit protection, open circuit detection, automatic landing light wig-wag, pilot and co-pilot trim control, runaway trim protection with backup trim controls on EFIS, flap control with intermediate flap stops, starter disable when engine running, flap over-speed alarms, trim and flap position display, over-voltage protection, alternator control and more. These advanced features along with the wiring harness kit give you a “quick-build” wiring experience.
Electronic circuit breakers are fully configurable to match your specific aircraft. You can set the circuit breaker value for each ECB, and you can assign which switch controls the ECB. And you can use any type of switch you want for the avionics master, boost pump, landing lights and other functions.
The VP-400 is built using the same field-proven hardware and software technology as our other products. It’s been proven in hundreds of experimental aircraft over thousands of flight hours. And you can easily wire backup circuits for critical avionics to eliminate any single point of failure concerns (see Designing Your Electrical System For Failures below).
The high-level wiring architecture is shown in the diagram below. Switches are wired to the display, which is installed nearby in the instrument panel. Dual redundant data busses send the switch positions to the PDU, which then turns the lights, trim and flap motors, and avionics on and off.
Designing Your Electrical System For Failures
It’s important to design the various systems on your aircraft to be fault tolerant so that if there is a failure you can continue to fly safely. What if your EFIS, VP-400 or magneto fails, for example? There are simple and proven ways to address this issue. Let’s look at the EFIS example first.
If you’re planning a single EFIS and your mission profile suggests that you need basic attitude, airspeed, and altitude information to fly safely, then you should design a backup EFIS into your instrument panel. So even though any single EFIS may fail, the overall design of the SYSTEM is fault tolerant and includes appropriate redundancy.
The same is true for your electrical system. The VP-400 provides the main power distribution function and you can also wire backup circuits to provide power to critical avionics in case the VP-400 fails. Viewed as a complete SYSTEM, the electrical system in your aircraft can be designed to have appropriate redundancies and backups to continue flight safely. More detail about wiring backup circuits is described in the Installation Manual.
The display mounts in your instrument panel and displays the synthetic vision view, map view, electrical system view, and a list of electrical device including device status and individual current draw. Using the touch screen, you can turn devices on and off including flaps and trim (in addition to normal switches). User-configured annunciators for things like canopy or door alarms are also shown. The screen is a high-resolution display (600×1024 pixels) with a bright 1000-nit LED backlight. The built-in back-up battery provides 30+ minutes of power to the display in case of an electrical system failure.
The Power Distribution Unit houses solid-state electronic circuit breakers and trim/flap controllers for protection and management of the electrical system on your aircraft. It turns electrical devices on and off, runs the trim and flap motors, handles short circuits, and watches for overvoltage and under-voltage conditions. Vertical Power’s DualBuss™ Technology provides two independent power banks (from a single power source) in a single enclosure, delivering unprecedented levels of redundancy and safety. Builders can now easily divide avionics and other electrical loads between two power busses, and should one bus controller fail the other bus will continue to operate independently and be able to provide power to the starter contactor. Each bus controller is powered by an independent power supply and microprocessor.
The system includes an independent self-contained GPS, air data, attitude, heading reference system (GADAHRS). The solid state gyro and software is licensed from Cloud Cap Technology (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Goodrich Corporation) that uses it in certified instruments as part of both aircraft and unmanned vehicles. The GPS is a highly-accurate WAAS GPS receiver that provides exceptional vertical accuracy.
System Setup, Firmware Updates, and Airport Data Updates
The VP-400 is fully configurable using the free VP-400 configurator application connected to the display over a wireless link. The configurator application runs on an Apple iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. You can configure everything from aircraft characteristics to circuit breaker values.
Firmware updates are included in the configurator application, and the VP-400 is automatically updated when the configurator connects to it. All of the system components are updated together.
The airport and obstacle database is provided by Seattle Avionics (www.seattleavionics.com), for $49 per year. With a single button press, the database can be downloaded and stored on the iPad, then downloaded to the VP-400. Worldwide terrain database is available at no charge from Vertical Power.
The VP-400 system includes a display, GADAHRS (GPS, air data, attitude, heading reference system), and one power distribution unit (PDU).
VP-400 Duo System
The VP-400 system includes a display, GADAHRS (GPS, air data, attitude, heading reference system), and two power distribution units (PDUs). The Duo is recommended for true dual-independent bus electrical architecture (two batteries, two master contactors, two independent alternators, and a cross tie contactor) or a single bus architecture that needs more circuits than a single PDU can provide.
VP-400 R-Evolution System
The VP-400 R-Evolution System is an upgrade to almost every system on the Lancair Evolution. More details can be found on the R-Evolution page here.
Autopilot Integration and Compatibility
The VP-400 is designed to work with an autopilot to fly your airplane to the runway threshold in case of an emergency. The following autopilots and respective EFIS systems integrate with the VP-400:
TruTrak AF-Pilot with Advanced Flight Systems EFIS
TruTrak GX Pilot with Garmin G3X
TruTrak GRT Pilot with GRT HX and SX EFIS
TruTrak Sorcerer with Garmin G900
However, autopilot integration is not required as guidance via highway in the sky, a flight director, and/or a velocity vector is provided. The VP-400 will work with the following EFIS/autopilot systems, but you must hand-fly the glide path using the provided steering commands as no autopilot integration is available (the flaps are still controlled by the VP-400 to manage aircraft energy).
Dynon SkyView, D100, D180
Required Third-Party Products
The following third-party products are required for proper operation of the VP-400:
Electric flaps. The VP-400 must be able to control electric flaps or an electric speed brake (on canard aircraft, controlled by the VP-400 flap circuit) in order to manage energy during a no-engine glide recovery.
Flap position sensor. A Ray Allen POS-12 position sensor must be installed to provide flap position feedback.
GPS antenna. A WAAS GPS antenna as specified in the VP-400 installation manual.
Airport database subscription. This is available from Seattle Avionics (www.seattleavionics.com) for $49 per year.
TruTrak autopilot. When the Runway Seeker is engaged by the user, it takes over control of the autopilot from the primary EFIS. The pilot can let the Runway Seeker guide the airplane to the runway threshold, or can manually disconnect the autopilot and hand-fly through the HITS guidance. See above for supported models.
TruTrak auto-trim module. This constantly adjusts the pitch trim as needed due to airspeed or other changes. Because the Runway Seeker is usually engaged at cruise speed and disengaged slightly above stall speed, changes in pitch trim are likely needed during the descent. If these changes are not made, the autopilot may disconnect while under Runway Seeker control. Considering that the Runway Seeker is used during an emergency situation, it is foreseeable that the pilot has other things to contemplate other than trim changes, so it is highly recommended that an auto trim module is installed.
Optional Third-Party Products
As the aircraft builder, you must determine which optional third-party products to install. In its most basic form, the Runway Seeker may be installed without integration to any of these third-part products. However, these products provide additional functionality and safety as described below. This information is provided solely to help you make the decision that is right for your aircraft, budget, and mission. The third-party products are shown below.
FreeFlight XPLORER ADS-B receiver. This provides surface winds and forecast winds aloft to the VP-400 enabling the VP-400 to more accurately calculate a descent path and choose a safer runway that is more closely aligned with the surface winds, improving your chances of a safe landing.
Airport Database and Terrain Regions
Worldwide terrain database is available at no charge from Vertical Power.
US 50 states airport database is available from Seattle Avionics (www.seattleavionics.com) for $49 per year.
International airport databases are expected to be available in the upcoming future.
A VP-400 climate control system is under development. Details will be posted here when available. Please call for more information.
VP-400 Feature Implementation
Over time, we are contemplating adding additional features with the VP-400. Click here to view a PDF file showing proposed features and status if implementation. Please contact us directly with further questions.
My EFIS shows me glide range. Isn’t that good enough?
No, it’s not. The glide range ring simply shows you what is within glide range, but does not show you meaningful information about the individual runways, terrain avoidance, obstacle avoidance, or how to glide safely to the airport. While terrain and obstacle hazards are shown in synthetic vision displays, they are not much help during an engine-out glide where you have few options. Trying to determine the correct descent path during an engine-out glide in good weather is tough enough, but in bad weather or flying through an undercast is almost impossible.
The moving map on a primary EFIS does not readily help you decide which airport is the best one to land, taking into account winds, terrain, runway length and other factors. The airport colors on a primary EFIS typically denote towered vs. non-towered whereas the colors on the VP-400 denote the landing quality of the airport taking into account many factors.
My GPS has a nearest airport function. Isn’t that good enough?
No it’s not. The nearest airport is not necessarily the best airport. The best airport is the one with the longest and widest runway that is pointed most directly into the wind that you can still safely glide to without impacting terrain or obstacles. THAT is the airport you want to glide to without power! The GPS nearest function understands none of these things.
What happens if I don’t disconnect the Runway Seeker on short final?
The VP-400 does not automatically disconnect the autopilot. On short final the VP-400 commands the autopilot into a very shallow descent and holds that until the aircraft has stopped moving or the autopilot is manually disconnected. The VP-400 does NOT auto-land the aircraft, but it will level out the descent over the runway to try to accomplish a survivable touchdown.
Can I hand-fly the glide path?
Yes, once the Runway Seeker is engaged it automatically engages the autopilot and controls the flaps. But you can use the standard autopilot disconnect button on the control stick to disengage the autopilot and hand-fly the glide path. The flaps will continue to operate automatically to manage your speed. Disconnect the Runway Seeker altogether to regain complete control of the airplane. The VP-400 provides both airspeed and heading bugs, as well a flight director and highway-in-the-sky steering commands regardless if the autopilot is engaged or not.
How does the VP-400 manage energy during the descent?
The VP-400 manages airspeed using both pitch and flaps. While the Runway Seeker is engaged, the VP-400 controls the flaps. The system knows the maximum airspeed for each flap setting and will not intentionally overspeed the flaps. The energy management logic in the VP-400 attempts to keep enough energy in reserve to account for unforeseeable circumstances, yet ensure the aircraft arrives at the runway on heading, airspeed, and altitude.
Can I install the VP-400 without an autopilot (or with a non- compatible autopilot)?
Yes, but you must hand fly the glide path. The Runway Seeker guidance works the same with or without the autopilot.
What if I want to use an EFIS/autopilot combination that does not work with the VP-400?
You can, but you must hand fly the glide path. The Runway Seeker guidance works the same with or without the autopilot. The VP-400 still controls flaps during the descent to manage aircraft energy.
How much does the VP-400 cycle the flaps once the Runway Seeker is engaged?
The flap movement algorithm has been design to minimize movement of the flaps during gliding descent. We are not aware of any kit manufacturers that publish flap cycle limits, so the best we can do is keep flap movement to a minimum.
What are the dimensions of the display?
5.0 inches wide by 7.7 inches tall. The display mounts from the front. Dimension drawings are in the installation manual.
What does the built-in battery backup power?
The internal battery backup powers the display and the GADAHRS.
How does the VP-400 account for winds?
Winds at altitude are derived internally and surface winds are received from the ADS-B system, if installed. These winds are used in the calculations to determine both the glide path and the landing runway. The glide path itself is designed with extra safety margin in it to account for winds being different than anticipated. The system has been tested extensively under many different types of wind conditions.
Can I use a lower-cost ADS-B receiver (FIS-B) to get surface winds?
We are looking into a receive-only module made by NavWorx and will post details when available. It should cost <$1000.
Is the path re-calculated during the descent?
No, once the seeker is engaged the path is locked in and steering and energy is managed against that flight path.
Is Runway Seeker basically an X-Plane game?
First, X-Plane from Laminar Research is a flight simulator based on detailed aerodynamics. The underlying aerodynamic calculations that the VP-400 uses are also based on real physics. However, the two products share very little source code.
Are you planning to incorporate some of the advanced feature from the VP-200 like automatic mode switching, emergency handling, automated checklists, etc.?
We would like to incorporate those features at a future date. It is too early to say exactly when that will be. Although it will be a software upgrade, it does change the way you wire the switches and the number of switches needed. We are also planning for an external emergency button (like the one on the VP-200 switch panel).
Why is Vertical Power getting into the EFIS business?
Vertical Power has developed an advanced backup EFIS, and it is designed to be complementary to one of the many very good primary EFIS systems out there today. The VP-400, in spirit, is designed to show some of the leading-edge capabilities that are enabled once the electrical system is built on modern digital technology. Without the tight integration between electronic circuit breakers and the backup EFIS, the Runway Seeker would not be possible.
|Power||6-32 volts DC; Dual diode-isolated power inputs
|Battery Backup||Built in, user replaceable. 30+ minutes power for display and GADAHRS only|
|Weight||Display 2.6 lbs; PDU 2.1 lbs; GADAHRS 0.7 lbs|
|Mounting||Display – mounts from front of panel with four 6-32 screws
PDU – mounts with included bracket bracket or optional mounting tray
GADAHRS – mounts with four 10-32 non-ferrous screws/nuts
|Connectors||Display – two 25 pin d-sub connectors, two 50 pin d-sub connectors
PDU – Three power connectors, two 25 pin d-sub connectors
GADAHRS – One 9 pin d-sub connector
|Operating Temperature||-40 to +85 deg C|
|Certification||The VP-400 is for use only with experimental and light sport aircraft only|
Detailed dimension drawing here.